AusPlots is a facility of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) providing a national network of surveillance and ecosystem baseline assessment sites. AusPlots collects a range of field data including vegetation and soil samples as well as photo-points, for their integration with other existing data sources and current knowledge. Over 300 survey sites monitoring an area of 100m x 100m are located in all Australian States and Territories.
AusPlots Key Objectives are:
- To increase the understanding of the dynamics of plant species and soils;
- To advance knowledge on distribution, abundance and threats to ecosystems;
- To increase the knowledge of carbon and nutrient budgets of soils and vegetation;
- To determine the genetic and phylogenetic diversity and biogeography of continent;
- To assist in the field validation of remote sensing products;
- To assist state and federal agencies to meet monitoring and reporting obligations;
- To create a photographic reference of key Australian bioregions, enhance existing State photo reference libraries.
Currently AusPlots is operating two sub-facilities, AusPlots Forests and AusPlots Rangelands.
AusPlots Forests aims at establishing a continent-wide monitoring network to improve the understanding of tree growth, forest productivity and carbon dynamics in tall eucalypt forests. It builds upon existing plot networks where possible, and as it develops will provide infrastructure for regionally based forest research.
AusPlots Rangeland aims at the establishment of a permanent network of survey plots (100m x 100m = 1ha) across Australia’s vast rangeland bioregions to monitor the vegetation and soils in these areas. In Australia 81% of the surface are represented by rangeland, which are characterised by
- vast spaces with highly weathered features;
- old and generally infertile soils;
- highly variable and often low rainfall; and
- diverse and variable plant and animal communities
Through this program gaps in environmental monitoring can be identified, prioritised and filled.
AusPlots data is available via TERN's Soils to Satellites and the ÆKOS Data Portal. Since March 2014 data from approximately 130 sites are available, with more being added regularly as herbarium identifications are received. So far, the program has collected data from more than 330 survey plots.